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Work In Progress: Osaka Ramen Update 2.0

Jeff Osaka plans a second Osaka Ramen in Cherry Creek

Jeff Osaka

By Elizabeth Woessner | Online Editor

Jeff Osaka has been a busy man since closing his esteemed Twelve Restaurant last August (see our first Osaka Work In Progress Update). In addition to the 12,000-square-foot culinary emporium, The Market, that he is opening with business partner Ken Wolf in the HH Tammen Building {2269 Larimer Street, Denver}, Osaka now has three restaurants in the works for 2015. Sushi Rama {2621 Larimer Street, Denver}, scheduled to open this summer, will boast a revolving conveyor belt called a “kaiten” of grab-and-eat sushi. The first Osaka Ramen {2611 Walnut Street, Denver} will open in mid-March, and Osaka recently announced the opening of a second Osaka Ramen {2817 East Third Avenue, Denver} in the former Ay Caramba space  in mid-April.

Osaka Ramen CC

Although Cherry Creek hasn’t seen the same explosion of restaurants, breweries, and residences that RiNo has, it too has had a recent renaissance of sorts. “While Cherry Creek went through a period of low density, there’s a huge resurgence going on in the neighborhood, which is super exciting,” says Osaka. “A lot of new developers are coming in, and there are several new residential living spaces on the horizon. My restaurant is well-positioned on the block with great street visibility.” In addition, Osaka notes that the two-level space is broken up into many smaller spaces, making for a “quaint and intimate” feel.

The 1,880-square-foot space will seat 30 people in the downstairs dining room, another 25 in the upstairs bar, and 25 more on the covered and enclosed sidewalk-facing patio. The modern space will boast a Japanese pop culture and anime motif with a blend of wooden and mid-century modern plastic furnishings.

The restaurant will be open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. The menu consists of five types of mainstay ramen bowls: shoyu, shio, tonkotsu (the star ramen, all pork broth), tantanmen, and a vegetarian ramen of Thai green curry with coconut milk, each priced at $14. In addition, Osaka will offer seasonal ramen selections (an Olathe corn ramen, for example). All of his noodles will be sourced from Sun Noodle.

Jeffosakaraman

A host of small plates, including pan-fried oysters, grilled shishito peppers, bacon-fried rice, gyoza, chicken karaage, and a signature Osaka Ramen salad that’s cabbage-based and dressed with sesame will range in price from $4 to $12. Osaka also plans to feature bento boxes, which contain rice, salad, housemade pickles (tsukemono), and a protein (miso cod, spicy tofu, or chicken/beef teriyaki) as an alternative to ramen.

Beverages will focus on sake and soju. In addition, there will be wines and 16 taps (eight downstairs, eight upstairs), featuring mostly Colorado beers and a selection of Japanese beers by the bottle.

The primary difference between RiNo and Cherry Creek is that Cherry Creek will offer everything to-go, whereas RiNo won’t have a takeout option–at least not in the beginning.

In addition to what seems to be a very full plate, Osaka has also been busy helping to organize this year’s Chefs Up Front Event–a culinary extravaganza to support Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign–coming up on April 19 in the Mile High Ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center. Our only question is, “Chef Osaka, when do you sleep?”